The tears behind the smile – Villanelle

Seated fat clown by Pablo Picasso

Seated fat clown by Pablo Picasso



Behind the mask he hid his fears
with painted mouth in constant smile
as laughter moved him into tears

At played stupidity we cheered
which gave a bitter taste of bile
behind the mask he hid his fears

He wished to find more thoughtful peers
who wouldn’t let him be defiled
as laughter moved him into tears

And every time his face is smeared
to be in vibrant cheery style
behind the mask he hid his fears

He was engaged in bad affairs
and victimized by chide revile
as laughter moved him into tears

And when he left us for the stars
his coffin carried down the aisle
behind the mask he hid his fears
as laughter moved him into tears

This week in Trifecta I move through form poetry by offering a Villanelle. The word of the week is
mask
a : a protective covering for the face
b : gas mask
c : a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation
d : a comparable device to prevent exhalation of infective material
e : a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries

37 responses to “The tears behind the smile – Villanelle

  1. I was checking out the Trifecta challenge and clicked on your poetry. Wow. I read this poem twice to really appreciate what you did with the lines and the verses. Impressive:~) I wish I had a drop of your talent with poetry. While I occasionally dabble in it, there’s no way it’s at this level.

    • you should take a look at “do not go gently…” by Dylan Thomas… an amazing piece.. Structured poetry might look binding to you, but in reality it’s gives you room to focus on content… and to some extent let the rhymes drive the story.

  2. I am a sucker for formal verse, and this is lovely, Björn. Great characterization of the clown, too.
    Also took me back to dylan thomas and silvia plath… so lovely.

  3. Another impressive piece of poetry, Bjorn. Great take on the word. I’m familiar with the famous Dylan Thomas poem. I have to admit I didn’t know it was called a villanelle. Now I do. I like what you say about staying within the stricture of the form to concentrate on content. Makes me want to give it a try.

  4. Lovely, Bjorn! I love how the structure of the poem contributes to the overall mood and the sense that the emotion is a long-term one, not a fleeting aggravation. The villanelle is a new form for me (it’s been eons since I studied poetry in school) but I love it.

  5. I also love villanelles–(in fact I wrote one very similar to this about this time last year, only with a veil)and this is a lovely one–your grasp of the mask and its purpose comes through really well, and the form suits the subject perfectly, with its singsong both covering and creating its own image.

  6. nice. i often dislike the repetition of the villanelle, to tell the truth, but yours is purposeful and strong in its narrative, and the cadence really suits the story. well done!

  7. Well done Bjorn. I was trying to think of a good form for this challenge – a Villanelle is perfect !!! I want to redo mine now haha. next time.

  8. Bjorn, very glad you ‘unmasked’ this villanelle for the prompt – it deserves to be seen again. Emotional and so well crafted. Thank you for sharing ~

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